(This is ChaosLoki’s husband making my first, and the final, posting to this journal.)
04/01/1966 – 01/18/2008
Monday, 01/07/2008: We went to the oncologist for a scheduled check-up and all looks fine with Heather.
Friday, 01/11/2008: We went to the oncologist for her chemo treatment and she was looking a bit jaundiced, so they admitted her to the hospital for tests. This didn’t really raise any flags with us, since she has had so many tests. Her biggest complaint is that the room they put her in has a TV that turns itself off after being on for 17 seconds.
Saturday, 01/12/2008 – Sunday, 01/13/2008: We “fix” the TV by bringing her lots of stuff to occupy her time: DVD player and DVD’s, Zune with docking station, books, and her basket of current crafting. Between the testing and her amusements there is no time for worrying.
Monday, 01/14/2008: AM: I drop the girls off at school and head over to the hospital. She is meeting with a nurse from the practice who is there to give us the results of the weekend of testing. It was a certainty that the jaundice was being caused by poor liver function. They had been hoping to find a blocked duct or something they could clear out, unfortunately, all they found was a liver that was so riddled with tumors that it could no longer perform its function. She estimates a life expectancy for Heather of 4-6 weeks. Heather refuses to believe this until her doctor tells her himself. He is supposed to be by that afternoon.
Monday, 01/14/2008: PM: The doctor confirms the prognosis for Heather, the girls, and myself. However, his estimate is 2-4 weeks unless he can find some sort of chemo drug that doesn’t process out of the body through the liver. He is not optimistic, but Heather says, “No, she isn’t ready to go home, that would be quitting.” The doctor also warns us that the unprocessed toxins in her system are going to be quite hard on her brain and that each day she will have less mental acuity than the previous day.
Tuesday, 01/15/2008: AM: We are waiting and hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve, none occurs. We try and discuss “final matters”, but it is very difficult. Between her tendency to lose concentration and wander in speech and my reluctance to press her on matters we cover little and much of it ambiguously. She then takes a nap.
Tuesday, 01/15/2008: PM: She concludes “no news is bad news” from her doctor and wants to go home. The hospital isn’t quite ready and/or prepared to transfer her to home hospice care and we agree to settle all matters on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday, 01/16/2008: We hear from the doctor in the morning, there is nothing else he can do. He clears her for release to home hospice and he estimates that she probably won’t be at home for more than a week. She comes home that afternoon. I set up to have her sleep on “my” side of the bed, which is closer to the bathroom, but she crawls to her side as soon as she gets on the bed. She pets her dogs and cat, we make some phone calls, and visits a bit with “TOH”. She goes to sleep happy.
Thursday, 01/17/2008: The toxins/enzymes are taking quite a toll on her higher functions. She can still stand, hobble, crawl, sit-up, eat, drink, etc. on her own, or with some assistance, but she has a hard time holding concentration long enough to string more than 3 words together. She definitely perks up for visitors though, and we have a stream of them in and out of the house all day. She definitely appreciated all the love and attention from all of her family and friends. She ends the day by crawling to her side of the bed, and with some assistance, leaning back against her favorite pillow.
Friday, 01/18/2008: She has a much less restless night than Thursday night. A few minor position changes early on, and then she settled into comfortable position. Her breathing stopped at about 4:00 am and she was officially declared dead at 6:20 am. She died like she lived, on her own terms, and with dignity and grace.
The world will be a drabber place without her direct presence, but hopefully, some of her brightness can live on through her daughters and the effects she has had on the lives of those she has known.
One of the amazing things about her was her fighting spirit and the abundant sense of final victory that she bestowed on all around her. Rereading through her Live Journal today it seems like her demise was an inevitable conclusion to a long and constantly deteriorating condition. Yet, living next to her during that period, there was never any thought given to anything but her ultimate recovery.
I plan on archiving these journal entries of hers, so that in future years, as time takes its toll on memories, her written word can help remind her daughters of what a truly remarkable person they had for a mother.